Do Something for Nothing: Seeing Beneath the Surface of Homelessness, Through the Simple Act of a Haircut
By Joshua Coombes
Published May 18, 2021 by Akashic Books
5 out of 5 stars!
Joshua Coombes never planned on becoming a hairdresser. Through a chance opportunity in his mid-twenties, he landed a job cutting hair, which would ultimately lead to even bigger, life-changing opportunities.
“I learned how to talk less and listen more.”
In 2015 he would start down a path that would soon lead to a worldwide movement, Do Something For Nothing, aimed at spreading kindness and compassion. While talking with a homeless man who he frequently saw on his way home, Coombes offered the man a haircut. While listening to the man’s story while he cut, Coombes felt a sense of connection with the man, which led to the formation of a friendship. After meeting some of the homeless man’s friends, Coombes soon found himself taking his supply kit around London, offering free haircuts to men and women living on the streets and, most importantly, listening to their stories.
Coombes set out to spread these simple acts of compassion throughout communities abroad, and this book takes us on his journeys around the world. We meet a family in Los Angeles living in a tent under an overpass while trying to maintain some structure for their young son; Zero in Denver asking for birthday wishes; young children in Mumbai with heartwarming smiles; the charismatic Eelco in Amsterdam who was optimistic about his future; and many others. Before and after pictures accompany each story, and you can almost feel the emotional changes through the after photos that a simple haircut can bring. And as for the man on the cover?
Monty, from Sydney, Australia, who shared snippets from his past and a coffee with the author.
I’ll admit that I’ve become rather cynical as I’ve grown older, but Coombes portraits of real people and the effects of a simple kindness at turns broke my heart and gave me hope for humanity.
Thank you to Akashic Books for sending me this copy for review!
I hope everyone is staying safe and sane out there. Feel free to drop me a line anytime, let’s talk books! Until next time, Happy Reading!